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Showing posts with label Channel S. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Channel S. Show all posts

Thursday, 8 May 2014

GOVT’S ‘VICE-LIKE GRIP’ ON BROADCASTING

The Government in Swaziland has a ‘vice-like’ grip on broadcast media in the kingdom and nearly all radio content is censored, a report just published said.

No announcement ‘that is negative or does not support the Government’s agenda is allowed, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) revealed.

In an overview of media freedom in 2013, MISA said in Swaziland Swazi TV and the state radio Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS), ‘act as government propaganda mouthpieces.

It added, the only privately-owned TV channel in Swaziland, Channel Swazi (Channel S),has not added much value in terms of media diversity or independence’.

It added, ‘Channel Swazi has only survived by outdoing the state-owned broadcasters in kowtowing to the authorities and influential people. Owing to severe State and self-censorship, when criticism is offered by much of the media it is often offered in defence of the King.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties cannot contest elections in the kingdom and most are banned outright. Pro-democracy campaigners are harassed and imprisoned and freedom of speech and assembly is severely curtailed.

In its report called So This is Democracy? MISA reported, ‘Government maintained its vice-like grip on the state-controlled broadcast media.

Members of parliament and government ministers were prevented from speaking on state radio and TV by the Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini. He used the Public Service Announcement (PSA) Guidelines for broadcasting to ban any announcement that is negative or does not support the Government’s agenda’.

MISA reported, The government invoked the PSA guidelines not only to suppress dissenting voices but also to suppress the voices of Members of Parliament in the State broadcasters.

The legislators felt the guidelines were meant to frustrate them as they were accused of using radio to campaign. 

The ban imposed during election campaigns drove MP Masende Zwane to tears as he pleaded with the PM to lift it, claiming it frustrated progress and the free flow of information. 

MP Zwane was stopped from making public announcements on State radio. The head of government did not budge an inch.

The ban also affected ministers who were told to slow down on the usage of national radio in the lead up to the national elections. According to Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku this was done to avoid a situation where some people would have unfair advantage, because not everyone would have access to national radio.

Ministers were only allowed to speak on official business. Even before then, they would have to seek permission from the deputy prime minister’s office. These measures effectively gagged election candidates in the broadcast media.’

Thursday, 4 November 2010

WEEP NO TEARS FOR CHANNEL SWAZI

We should weep no tears at the news that Channel S television in Swaziland has been forced off the air after its property was attached to pay off bank debts.


Channel S (also known as Channel Swazi) may not be back on the air anytime soon, if at all.


If it never comes back it is no great loss. Channel S is (was) Swaziland’s only ‘independent’ television channel and was set up nearly 10 years ago in competition to Swaziland’s only other TV station, the state-controlled Swazi TV.


Channel S is a controversial television station run by an equally controversial man, Qhawe Mamba.

Swaziland is not a democracy and the government on behalf of the monarchy keeps a strong control of broadcast media. However, in 2001, in an effort to mislead the outside world that Swaziland supported freedom of expression, the government allowed Channel S, to begin operating within the kingdom.

King Mswati III supported Channel S, because he wanted to show that his regime was democratic and respected human rights, but this illusion was soon exposed when Channel S had its offices raided by police after it screened a report deemed too critical of the king. The authorities immediately reined in any hint of independence at Channel S.

The criticism of the king was an aberration, because Mamba has always been excessively loyal to the monarchy. For many years he managed to hold down two jobs. Even while he was head of Channel S he was employed full time by the Swaziland government-controlled station, Swazi TV.

During this time Mamba was a ‘praise singer’ for Swazi King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. A ‘praise singer’ is exactly what it sounds like and Mamba would travel across the world following the king on his travels and reporting back for Swazi TV on the king’s deeds and singing the praises of the king to anyone who would listen.


In February 2008, Mamba went on record to say that Channel S television would always support King Mswati. Mamba was reported saying ‘this is something they would do always because they paid allegiance to their king in their capacity as bona fide citizens’.

He went on, ‘We are citizens of the Kingdom and we have to be patriotic.’


With the death of Channel S (if indeed death it is) we lose one more outlet for the king’s propaganda. Good riddance.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

'MURDER JOURNALISTS', SAY PASTORS

A group of Christian leaders in Swaziland have hired a ‘hitman’ to murder journalists who exposed them as devil worshippers.


Three reporters have been targeted because they reported that a group of pastors had been worshipping the devil as a way to raise money.


According to a media report in Swaziland, the pastors have ‘enlisted the services of hitmen from South Africa to eliminate three journalists who apparently blew the whistle on them’.


The journalists are reported to be Channel Swazi News Editor Mhlonishwa Motsa, Ingwazi News Editor Lucky Ndzimandze and reporter Zweli Dlamini, also from Ingwazi.


According to the Weekend Observer, the a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, the pastors were exposed on a talk show broadcast on Channel S.


The newspaper reports that the pastors ‘met behind closed doors’ and they decided ‘that the journalists be assassinated for “meddling into our business”’.


This is not the first time Christian leaders in Swaziland have called for journalists they do not like to die.


In 2007 Pastor Justice Dlamini, a well known pastor and media figure, said he was praying for the death of two journalists from the Times of Swaziland after that newspaper published a report about Dlamini and an argument he had with another pastor about a clapped out car owned by Dlamini’s church.


I am happy to report that Pastor Justice’s prayers did not work and he just made a complete fool of himself.


I hope this latest case of Pastor Power proves to be just as ridiculous.

Friday, 19 December 2008

SWAZI POLICE TORTURE JOURNALISTS

Swaziland police have been accused of torturing and detaining two television reporters.


The journalists, who work for Swaziland’s only independent television station Channel S, say they were arrested by police while they were following a story about a crime syndicate.


It is reported that police thought the journalists were part of the criminal gang. They were released without charge.


Now, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has asked police and other security agencies not to disturb journalists in their duties.


According to a report in the Swazi Observer yesterday (18 December 2008), Director of the MISA Swaziland Chapter Comfort Mabuza said if there were suspicions in the way journalists conduct themselves, the relevant entities should be contacted.


Mabuza also urged journalists to investigate stories and not rely on sources for information.


‘Do not run for a story without satisfying yourself that it is not foul play. Investigate a story and confirm it.’


Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Timothy Simelane said the alleged detention and harassment of the two was unfortunate.


‘From what we have gathered so far, the journalists were on duty and had been promised a story yet this was not to be the case. However, no matter the circumstance, the police had no prerogative to harass them, nor detain them for so many hours.


‘Members of the public are also warned not to take journalists for a ride by promising them news, yet the motive is to abuse them to settle personal scores with opponents. Similarly, journalists are warned not to fall for scheming bogus sources, but to screen them first to avoid being taken for a ride.’


Simelane said the association would investigate the matter further.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

SWAZI ANTI-ABUSE GROUP PRO-WHIPPING

In Swaziland it’s all right to beat up your children so long as you don’t beat them up too much.

Wait a moment, it gets better: this is according to the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse. Yes, you read that correctly AGAINST abuse.

Nontobeko Mbuyane, the programme director of the organisation known locally as SWAGAA, was responding to recent reports of ‘severe beatings meted out on children by their parents and teachers’. She told the Swazi Observer yesterday (16 June 2008) that SWAGAA ‘condemned’ such beatings.

Well, as it happens SWAGAA only ‘condemns’ them a little bit. The Observer reports her saying ‘away with child violence and beating without a valid cause’.

The Observer said, ‘She stressed though that they were not saying children must not be beaten but that appropriate care should be taking when punishing them.’

The comments come after two reports last week about children assaulted at their schools.

The Times of Swaziland (11 June 2008) reported that a girl, aged 15, was stripped of her pantyhose before being whipped ‘about 15 times until the sjambok broke’.

The newspaper shows graphic photographs of the scars left on her thighs. Channel Swazi (Channel S) had also featured the girl in a news report the previous evening. The Times reports that the school disputes she got 15 lashes – the principal said she only got six.

On the same day (11 June 2008), the Swazi Observer reported the case of a form-four boy who was ‘severely beaten’ with six lashes by the deputy principal at his school. The newspaper showed photographs on its front page of welts and bruises on the boy’s thighs.

I said previously that such assaults on children by their parents, guardians and schools are common in Swaziland. When questioned, adults in Swaziland in large numbers support the use of corporal punishment on children.

I doubt if this will change any time soon. The use of violence is ingrained in Swazi culture, even though the kingdom’s leaders try to tell the world that Swaziland is a ‘peaceful’ kingdom.

I pity the children of Swaziland and I pity them all the more so that an organisation such as SWAGAA that is suppose to be against abuse, supports their continued whipping.

See also
SWAZI CHILDREN WHIPPING STORM
SWAZI CHILD WHIPPING – UPDATE

Monday, 26 May 2008

SWAZI TV ‘NOT WORTH PAYING FOR’

A threat to prosecute viewers in Swaziland who do not have TV licences has sparked intense criticism of the quality of television in the kingdom.

People have been warned that court notices will go out to non-payers in August and they will face fines of up to E500 (about 70 US Dollars) or up to six months’ imprisonment.

The Times of Swaziland newspaper has discovered that people are refusing to buy the licences because the quality of programmes – especially on state controlled Swazi TV – is so bad. They also say that the TV station is just a mouthpiece of the Swazi government.

The Times reported on Thursday (22 May 2008), ‘Viewers say the local station fails to provide them with good programmes worth watching.

‘Interviewed members of the public said they were not in any way prepared to pay their licences until the station improved its programmes while others argue that they do not have access to the station’s transmission.’

The Times interviewed members of the public about the quality of television. It reported that people would only speak if their identities were not given, because they feared being victimised and their comments being used against them in court.

One person said she never watched Swazi TV because there was nothing worth watching. Instead she watched Channel Swazi (Channel S), the kingdom’s only other television station, ‘for good local news coverage’.

She added that she didn’t want to pay the licence fee ‘just to help them [Swazi TV] run their propaganda’.

Another said he had used his licence fee money to put towards the cost of a decoder to receive satellite television, ‘because they [Swazi TV] have dismally failed to deliver what is worth the viewers’.

A different viewer said Swazi TV was not worth paying for. ‘They can easily pay for all the junk they give us to watch with the money they get from advertising.’

I am fascinated by the reactions of the people the Times spoke to. They are very well aware that they are being short changed and can see that Swazi TV is in reality only a propaganda mouthpiece for the government.

I have written many times before about the poor quality of the television in Swaziland, and I include both Swazi TV and Channel Swazi here. I believe both channels take their viewers for granted by offering stale, imported programmes that have no relevance to them. It is easier for the stations to air US chat shows and lame comedies, than produce home-grown programming that would engage Swazi viewers.

Until the programmes improve Swazi TV cannot expect people to willing buy television licences. It’s day light robbery.

See also
WATCHING SWAZI TV ‘HARMS CULTURE’

Thursday, 24 April 2008

CHANNEL SWAZI TOPS AMONG STUDENTS

Channel Swazi television has come out tops in a poll among university students.

They say that it is the best and most reliable television station in Swaziland (but there are only two) and ‘is on the verge of reaching international standards in terms of news reporting and broadcasting’.

The research, conducted by Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) students at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA), discovered that students preferred watching Channel Swazi rather than the state-owned Swazi TV because of the variety of programmes offered.

They preferred entertaining programmes such as movies, talk shows, comedy and soaps. Fewer than half questioned put news high on their list of favourites, but they did say that they believed that Channel Swazi ‘deserves the acknowledgement for being unbiased when reporting’.

They believed that Channel Swazi offered a ‘wide range of home brewed programmes that relate to the way of life of the Swazi nation’.

Most students believed that privately owed companies (such as Channel Swazi) offered better services than government owned ones.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most students were in favour of the television station employing young people ‘to keep the station lively’.

Writing about Swazi TV, the researchers concluded that it ‘still has a lot of work to do to improve its viewership. Swazi TV still has to bring about changes there and also try to involve Swazi society by broadcasting home brewed programmes.’

The research was conducted as part of the JMC Diploma Year Two mass communication research course and the researchers were Ayanda Ntuli, Thobile Maziya, Futhi Mkhonta and Tsandziwe Dlamini.

Monday, 18 February 2008

SWAZI NEWSPAPER CENSORS CRITICISM

Swaziland’s Weekend Observer newspaper has censored criticism about itself.

The newspaper decided not to let its readers know just how badly it misreported one of Swaziland’s leading non-government organisations.

The newspaper misrepresented the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Swaziland Chapter in a report of MISA’s latest survey on the media, the African Media Barometer (AMB) Swaziland 2007.

As I reported before the Weekend Observer allowed Channel Swazi director Qhawe Mamba to ‘punch holes in’ the survey, recently published by MISA.

The Weekend Observer said that the AMB survey had said that Channel Swazi was co-owned by Mamba with King Mswati III. The newspaper then allowed Mamba and Vukani Maziya, the chief executive officer of Swaziland’s only other television station, the government-controlled Swazi TV, to criticise the AMB report.

At no time was MISA asked to comment. That was unprofessional enough, but as I reported the AMB report never said Channel Swazi was co-owned by the king. So there was no story – and the Weekend Observer would have known this if anyone there had bothered to read the survey that was being criticised.

MISA complained about the Weekend Observer report and it was given space for a ‘right to reply’ in the following issue (9-10 February 2008). This is laudable and is in line with article 10 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of conduct, which states that a fair opportunity should be given to individuals and organisations to respond to issues

But the Weekend Observer went on to let itself and its readers down badly.

MISA gave an account of the AMB and how it was based on the views of a panel of media experts in Swaziland ‘knowledgeable about the media landscape in Swaziland’.

MISA gave Mamba and Maziya a ticking off. MISA said,

‘We are seriously concerned that the AMB was so misconstrued by the very people who most need to understand it. The report is a vital tool for both Mamba and Maziya. Understanding how people perceive your station is one way of improving and developing your product. Instead of taking the feedback personally they should be thankful for the assistance.’

And as far as the Weekend Observer’s readers know, the criticism ended there.

There was an additional paragraph in the ‘right to reply’, but the Weekend Observer cut it out.

This is what that paragraph said.

‘But what is of most concern to us at MISA is that the Weekend Observer published such an unbalanced story. The journalist never called MISA for comment so that he could present both sides of the issue. The reader was only given the opinions of Mamba and Maziya. But, of course, that's no surprise to us. The AMB cites lack of balance as one of the major deficiencies in the Swazi media. Now is that fact or mere perception?’

I’m with MISA on this one. The Weekend Observer reporter didn’t read the survey, then allowed the survey’s publishers to be seriously criticized by the two leading players in Swaziland television. Then the reporter didn’t allow MISA to respond to the criticism.

But it’s not all the reporter’s fault. The news editor and editor of the Weekend Observer allowed a seriously unbalanced news report to appear in the newspaper.

Unfortunately, as the AMB survey itself pointed out, this was not an isolated incident. I believe the Swazi media are seriously biased. Sometimes this is deliberate, for example when the views of ruling elites are treated as truth. Sometimes this is because the journalists have no idea what they are doing. Just watch Mamba’s Channel Swazi news any day of the week to see what I mean.

See also
OFFICIAL – CHANNEL SWAZI IS BIASED
SWAZI MEDIA RIGHTS STILL RESTRICTED
DIRE OUTPUT ON SWAZI CHANNEL S

Monday, 4 February 2008

OFFICIAL – CHANNEL SWAZI IS BIASED

The head of the only independent television station in Swaziland has admitted publicly that his station airs biased programmes.

Qhawe Mamba, who co-owns Channel Swazi (Channel S), confirmed this week that the station would always praise King Mswati III.

This news may come as no surprise to the channel’s few viewers, but it is good to have the information confirmed nonetheless. It also means that we should not trust news and current affairs programmes that appear on Channel Swazi, as they will always support the king and by extension the kingdom’s corrupt ruling elite.

The Weekend Observer (2-3 February 2008) reports Mamba saying that Channel Swazi is seen frequently praising the king. The Weekend Observer reported Mamba saying ‘this is something they would do always because they paid allegiance to their king in their capacity as bona fide citizens’.

Mamba is reported saying, ‘We are citizens of the Kingdom and we have to be patriotic.’

This intentional bias directly contravenes the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Code of Conduct. Section one states that it is the duty of every journalist to write and report, adhere to and faithfully defend, the truth. A journalist should provide the public with unbiased, accurate, balanced and comprehensive information.

Deliberately distorting news and information about King Mswati III in order to be ‘patriotic’ is the job of a propagandist, not an independent journalist.

Mamba was quoted in a news report in which he criticised the survey African Media Barometer (AMB) Swaziland 2007, recently published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Swaziland Chapter.

Mamba told the Weekend Observer that the AMB report had said that Channel Swazi is co-owned by Mamba with King Mswati III. The report then gave him space to criticise the report more generally. The Weekend Observer then enlisted Vukani Maziya, the chief executive officer of Swaziland’s only other television station, the government-controlled Swazi TV, to join in criticism of the report.

The newspaper interviewed nobody from MISA, the publisher of the AMB report.

Nor, it would seem did the Weekend Observer reporter bother to read the AMB report itself because the AMB report doesn’t say that the king co-owns the station.

What the report actually says is that Channel Swazi is ‘privately owned “on behalf of his majesty”’.

As I wrote on 24 January 2008 Swaziland is not a democracy and the government on behalf of the monarchy keeps a strong control of broadcast media. However, in 2001, in an effort to mislead the outside world that Swaziland allowed freedom of expression, the government allowed Channel Swazi, to begin operating within the kingdom.

King Mswati III supported Channel Swazi, because he wanted to show that his regime was democratic and respected human rights.

Now, Mamba has confirmed that his television channel will always support the king. With such a man as Mamba in charge of an ‘independent’ television channel the king doesn’t need to invest any of his own E1.4 billion (200 million US dollars) wealth on a television station when he has someone to do his bidding for him for no payment at all.

See also
SWAZI MEDIA RIGHTS STILL RESTRICTED
DIRE OUTPUT ON SWAZI CHANNEL S

Thursday, 24 January 2008

DIRE OUTPUT ON SWAZI CHANNEL S

Swaziland’s only ‘independent’ television station Channel Swazi (Channel S) has been boasting about new equipment it has installed in its studios.

Congratulations to them, but what a pity that the standards of their programmes remain so awful.

For those who haven’t been paying attention the Times Sunday newspaper reported (13 January 2008) that E6 million (just under one million US dollars) had been spent on upgrading facilities.

Channel S is a controversial television station run by an equally controversial man Qhawe Mamba.

Swaziland is not a democracy and the government on behalf of the monarchy keeps a strong control of broadcast media. However, in 2001, in an effort to mislead the outside world that Swaziland allowed freedom of expression, the government allowed Channel S, to begin operating within the kingdom.

King Mswati III supported Channel S, because he wanted to show that his regime was democratic and respected human rights, but this illusion was soon exposed when Channel S had its offices raided by police after it screened a report deemed too critical of the king. The authorities immediately reined in any hint of independence at Channel S.

The criticism of the king was an aberration, because Mamba has always been excessively loyal to the monarchy. For many years he managed to hold down two jobs. Even while he was head of Channel S he was employed full time by the Swaziland government-controlled station, Swazi TV.

During this time Mamba was a ‘praise singer’ for Swazi King Mswati III. A ‘praise singer’ is exactly what it sounds like and Mamba would travel across the world following the king on his travels and reporting back for Swazi TV on the king’s deeds and singing the praises of the king to anyone who would listen.

What Mamba and Channel S presented was hardly independent news. But we expect this from broadcasters in Swaziland so there is nothing new here.

Today Channel S can jump up and down with excitement all it likes about the new equipment, but it doesn’t alter the fact that the programmes the channel produces are extremely bad.

Most of the programming on the station isn’t even produced in Swaziland. The programme schedules are full of cheap imports (endlessly repeated), mainly from the US.

But, of course, the new equipment will be used on homegrown shows. Certainly, something needs to be done about the way Channel S produces its news. Here’s what they put out last Thursday (17 January 2008) on their English language news programme.

The programme started with the newsreader facing the camera, stumbling her way through a script of the news. I hope viewers had not been drinking too much because they would have suffered a bout of motion sickness as the camera swayed first to left and right and then up and down. A photograph illustrating the report she was reading first appeared on screen, then disappeared. Then a blank space appeared where the photograph should have been. And this was only the first minute of the programme.

The first news report didn’t appear. When it did, the picture froze and the sound came on… and then went off. The camera showed the newsreader looking like a startled dog caught in the headlights of a car.

To cover up the mistake, Channel S went to a commercial. But even that didn’t work. So it was back to the news report. Once that was over it was on to the second report. But this report covered pictures that had just been shown in the previous report.

I’ll put Channel S out of its misery here and not tell you about the rest of the 30-minute programme.

Regular viewers of Channel S news programmes (if there are any) will know that what I have described is not a one-off occurrence. The news is like this every day. Channel S should stop worrying about new equipment; it should start hiring people who know how to do their job.

Channel S operations manager Mduduzi Hleta is quoted in the Times Sunday saying that ‘almost half a million’ people in Swaziland watch the channel. This is certainly untrue. Half a million people amounts to roughly half the population of Swaziland (adults and children) and since more than two thirds of people in Swaziland live in abject poverty on less than one US dollar a day it is highly unlikely they can afford to watch television.

I leave it up to you to speculate why Channel S tells lies about its viewing figures but in truth until the quality of its programmes improves dramatically it will be lucky to keep half a dozen viewers let alone half a million.


See also
TELEVISION MISUSES CHILDREN

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

TWO WEEKS TO SAVE SWAZI TV

Swazi TV news is so bad that the Minister of Public Service and Information has been given two weeks to make it better.

The move makes a timely reminder that media in Swaziland is not free.

Swazi TV is the government controlled television channel in Swaziland. There are only two TV stations in the kingdom, the other Channel Swazi (Channel S) is ‘independent’ of government control but was set up with the stated aim of broadcasting positive material about Swaziland’s autonomous monarch, King Mswati III.

The news of Swazi TV’s lack of expertise was published yesterday (27 November 2007) in the Swazi Observer, a newspaper owned by a company that is effectively owned by the king.

The Observer reported that the Ministry of Public Service and Information portfolio committee (a committee that oversees the workings of the ministry) gave the minister S’gayoyo Magongo two weeks to put matters right.

It is true that Swazi TV is in a mess. A few days ago it was revealed that Vukani Maziya, the chief executive of Swazi TV, had to wait about four months for his contract to be renewed. It was said that this was due to an administrative problem, rather than concerns about his ability in the job.

Swazi TV has been complaining for many years that it does not have enough money to properly run a television station. It relies heavily on cheap programming from overseas, especially the United States.

I have myself written about the poor quality of Swazi TV news. If you watch the news bulletins you see that the news is dominated by ‘official’ voices. These are representatives of the monarchy, of government or of non-government organizations.

Swazi television news excludes the vast majority of people in the country from its news bulletins and it rarely includes stories about ordinary people. Generally, ordinary people are not featured unless they have been victims of misfortune.

The majority of the reports that are broadcast centre on the main business town of Manzini and the kingdom’s capital city Mbabane and the 40-km ‘corridor’ that connects these two.

Swazi journalists do not perform their vital democratic role, which is to examine what government is and is not doing and to provide the public with information, comment, analysis, criticism and alternative views. Instead, news reports are presented at face value and reporters are not allowed to ask questions that require people in positions of power to justify their statements or actions.

If the Minister really wants to improve the quality of Swazi TV news, he and his government should set it free. It will never get better while it is forced to report only what the government allows it to. Instead, let professional journalists, people with real expertise and qualifications, run the station.



See also

TV NEWS IGNORES THE PEOPLE
BROADCASTING FOR THE PUBLIC